An Oakland nurse who was deported to Mexico last year was reunited with her four children in the Bay Area in time for the holidays later Saturday afternoon.
Maria Mendoza Sanchez entered the United States illegally 20 years ago, raised a family, never got into trouble and became a nurse. At 4:40 p.m., she arrived on a United Airlines flight after receiving an approval last month from a State Department official at the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City to return.
"I’m home. Back to my kids and back to work," she said.
Mendoza Sanchez said then that she's happy because she is a step closer to an H1B visa that would allow her to return to Oakland with her children.
It's been a difficult year especially for her children. Her olfest daughter Vianney had to take over as head of household, after Mendoza Sanchez and her husband were both ordered to leave the country.
"All my life my mom took care of me and supported me and I was going to make damn sure that I took care of her kids while she wasn’t here," Vianney said.
For her second oldest daughter Melin, she described graduating from college without her parents.
"All my friends were celebrating with their families and I couldn’t see my parents in the stands," she said.
Mendoza Sanchez's occupation, an oncology nurse at Oakland’s Highland Hospital, works in her favor. But having entered the U.S. illegally with a child 20-plus years ago works against her. Her only hope is a waiver on the H1B visa.
She has the support of Senator Dianne Feinstein and Congresswoman Barbara Lee and with just 10 days from Christmas, Mendoza Sanchez said she hadn't had much time to plan for the holiday.
"Well I don’t know yet what I’m going to be doing, but I know I’m going to be with them and that’s already, at least for me, the best Christmas ever," she said.
The work visa will be good only for a few years, but they’d be critical years for Mendoza Sanchez's children.